Is Gospel Advancing working with Youth Leader Panel
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

The Greg Stier Youth ministry Podcast

episode 35 | April 2024

Do the Gospel Advancing values really work?

a research study breakdown and youth leader panel

We believe in and train the Gospel Advancing values, but do they really produce a more effective youth ministry?

In this podcast, a group of youth ministry leaders discuss their experiences implementing Gospel Advancing ministry principles. Scott Tinman, Jeff Polen, Logan Floyd, and Ben Phillips share their backgrounds and involvement in youth ministry, emphasizing the importance of relational evangelism and leadership modeling in reaching young people with the Gospel. 

They discuss the results of a research project that surveyed over 600 youth ministries, identifying significant growth and effectiveness in ministries that prioritize relational evangelism, leadership modeling, and disciple multiplication strategies. They highlight the impact of intentional implementation of these values, including increased numbers of new believers, higher rates of youth ministry growth, and greater engagement of students in sharing the Gospel.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

0:01:29.0 Scott Tinman: My name is Scott Tinman. I am from Northwest Ohio in a town called Findlay. I’ve been the youth pastor here for… I’m starting my 12th year, and I’ve been doing youth ministry for over 30 years.

 

0:01:42.1 Jeff Polen: Yeah. I’m Jeff Polen. I’m also in Ohio, a little bit different area. I had the privilege, actually, of working with Scott and being with his group a couple of times. Scott is killing it. I love to see that. Now, they’ve been implementing the seven values really well. But I was a youth pastor for around a decade, and I embrace these seven values of the Gospel Advancing ministry. Totally changed the ministry that I was a part of and really, since 2017, I’ve been going around… I’m not actually a youth pastor anymore, but I still work with youth and I work with youth pastors, really trying to help them implement these seven values. We only have five. So I am a youth pastor with some really rowdy students.

 

0:02:26.6 Logan Floyd: My name is Logan. I am from a small town called Joplin. And I’ve been doing youth ministry here about six years. I’m about to hit year seven. Before that, I volunteered for about three years before I hopped on the scene. But I was introduced to Gospel Advancing ministry around four years ago from a local guy who had moved to Joplin, who had been involved with Dare 2 Share for a long time.

 

0:03:00.1 Ben Phillips: Yeah, so my name is Ben Phillips. I was in youth ministry for 15 years, implementing Gospel Advancing values. I grew up as a Dare 2 Share student from sixth grade on, all the way through getting to go to conferences and then trainings and things. And then two years ago, I was able to step on staff with Dare 2 Share in the mobilization department. And so I am the director of mobilization. I help in train up youth leaders all over the place in how to implement these values and work with their students to be gospel advancing and working together to reach every teen in their community with the gospel.

 

[pause]

 

0:03:50.2 BP: Yeah, clarity. Clarity.

 

[pause]

 

0:05:06.4 BP: Yeah. Absolutely. So the research project started with the survey sent out to youth leaders all over the world, actually, but mainly focused on North America, Canada, and the US, is where we were trying to get a lot of this from. And from that, we received responses from over 600 different youth ministries from across the US and Canada. And then we took those responses and broke them down into the groups that they fit into because what we didn’t wanna do is just take a general thing. We wanna see why does this work and what is making it work. And so we’ve got four different groups of youth ministries that were identified through this survey group. One, we’ll call the control group. This is your average youth ministry. We define this by the fact that they didn’t have any of the gospel advancing values really identified within what they were currently doing, and specifically didn’t have relational evangelism as one of their core values that they were implementing within their ministry. And so that’s our control group. Basically, it’s what the average youth ministry is. And then we had three groups that fit into a gospel advancing category. And so we’ll start with group A.

 

0:06:28.7 BP: Group A would have relational evangelism. That’s the one value that they could identify clearly that they were implementing, was relational evangelism with their students and through their students. And then you had a group B that had relational evangelism and leaders embracing and modeling gospel advancing. Yeah. Yeah, go for it.

 

[pause]

 

0:09:01.0 BP: Yeah. No, yeah, absolutely. So group number one, the control group, the average youth ministry that doesn’t have any of these identifiable values, any of the seven values identifiable within their programming of what they’re doing. And then you have group A, which has relational evangelism implemented. They’re training their students in how to share the gospel, and they personally are leading these things out as well. Group B has relational evangelism and leaders embracing and modeling it. Really, it’s meaning the leaders are praying for the lost. They’re personally sharing Jesus, and they’re inviting students into their lives to see that as they walk with them. And then there was the C group that had relational evangelism, leaders embracing and modeling it, and disciple multiplication strategy.

 

0:09:57.3 BP: What was amazing is when these three values were displayed in a group, all… The other four values that aren’t even mentioned in this, they just skyrocketed up. And so these three kind of core values really identified out groups that were thriving in not just youth ministry, but gospel advancing youth ministry. And so we were looking to say, okay, so a group that has these three specific values and seeing the rest of them amplified because of it, what are some of the results in differences between them and a control group? That group that doesn’t have any of these values implemented. And so what we saw was this. The first one is a group that has these values implemented reached two times as many new believing students per year. Two times as many students reach per year with the gospel coming to Christ, which is huge.

0:10:45.3 BP: The second result that we saw is that group on average experienced three times the amount of normal youth ministry growth over a year’s time compared to the control group. So the average youth ministry grows a little bit just by opening their doors, but gospel advancing ministries are growing at three times the rate by implementing these values and walking in it. And the last one, which I think is just mind blowing to me, is that on average, a control group youth ministry would see students sharing the gospel personally about five times a year on average, including missions trips and different like VBS and different activities they’re in. Where a gospel advancing ministry in this group C was seeing students share the gospel personally around 50 times a year per student, which is just an incredible jump there to start seeing the activation of students with the gospel. And so those three things have been the three kind of key takeaways that we’ve started with that we’re going to talk about a little bit today.

 

[pause]

 

0:12:08.8 JP: I mean, I’m with you, Greg. Like, the first thing I think of is, oh, surprise, surprise, the New Testament works. But it’s really encouraging to actually see it, because I think we have known that it’s right. I think the typical youth leader, when they hear those seven values, there’s something that just resonates deeply, like, oh, this is truth. Oh, this is what I should be doing. But then we’re also living in, especially in the Western church, we’re living in a day and age and a reality and where a lot of times we’re not measuring the right things. And so there’s a real question of, but if I live that out, will it look successful to the people around me? And I think, man, when you start seeing these numbers, not only is it right, not only do we know this is exactly what Jesus told us to do, but like who could look at those numbers and say, yeah, I still just don’t know. Like, that doesn’t make sense to me, right? Who could see this Group C reaching 50 people, 50 students a year and be like, yeah, but I just don’t know if that’s what the church should be about. Are you kidding me? Of course, this is what the church needs to be about. So it’s really exciting to actually see the numbers that back up what we already knew.

 

[pause]

 

0:14:04.5 Greg Stier: Yeah.

 

0:14:11.4 LF: Honestly, I’m not surprised just because, like you guys have said, it makes sense. Jesus knew what he was doing and he knew what worked and he taught the disciples to put that in the early church. And so if we’re following that model, these are the numbers that we should see. And being in a position of youth ministry where we were the control group not that long ago to quickly changing and being in group C. It’s nice to see that our kids aren’t following along and the data matches.

 

0:14:48.5 ST: I just think the word intentionality it comes to mind because when you look at these three values, those are very intentional values that that group is doing. Relational evangelism, leaders are modeling it, and so forth. And so I just see the intentionality of that when you put that focus on being a gospel advancing ministry and doing what Jesus has called us to do. And I think he kind of meant it when he said in Matthew 28, go and make disciples. It’s the secret sauce. We talk about that around here at our church, that we have the secret sauce. We teach the Bible. And we know the secret sauce on a Big Mac is Thousand Island dressing, right? It’s not a secret sauce. And yet for the church, sometimes we think, oh, we got to have this thing or these types of things to have an effective ministry. And really, no, we need just to make disciples and be intentional about it.

 

[laughter]

 

0:16:04.2 JP: Greg didn’t hear anything after that.

 

0:16:08.3 ST: He wants to go out and get a Big Mac after this is done.

 

0:16:16.8 JP: Oh my goodness.

 

0:16:24.3 ST: Yeah. You bet. I’m glad I could help you out.

 

[pause]

 

0:17:51.5 BP: So the first one was this, is that the gospel advancing ministry who had implemented those three values saw two times as many new believers as the control group each year. Yeah. So practically, one of the things that I’ll give my personal experience in it, first thing that it means is that the gospel is being shared. And that was something that we experienced. And what I love about this, though, is it’s not just the gospel being shared from a pulpit kind of thing or just during a lesson, but it’s clearly being given there. You’re also seeing the engagement of students actually carrying the gospel to students that aren’t coming into the ministry or haven’t walked in the doors to their parents, to their friends. They’re getting much more activated in those things. The gospel is going out much more. And because of the saturation, you’re seeing a greater response in that. And that’s what really we see from this. Yeah. Yeah.

 

0:19:13.4 ST: Well, I would just say when you’re putting the gospel in the center of your youth ministry and praying for your lost students each week. And because when you start praying for lost students, you see lost students. And our students saw that even in this last year. And we did these things called an expo night. And I remember this fall, there was a student that invited his friend who was a Catholic background came to this bonfire where he was sharing his testimony as part of our outreach. The very next week, that student showed back up at our youth ministry to be a part of it. And the friend that invited him did not. So he came to that group because of that friend. And he heard the gospel and it intrigued him. And he made connections with other students. Other students welcomed him.

 

0:20:11.1 GS: That’s awesome.

 

0:20:12.3 ST: In… And being a part of that. And he felt so comfortable that he can… And I always thought, if there’s anything that would show success in students connecting is if they’re invited by a friend and they come back without that friend being there, that means that they’re getting assimilated and they feel that this is their youth ministry. This is a place that they could belong.

 

[pause]

 

0:21:04.9 JP: One of the things I think is really kind of interesting, my observation and in really implementing this whole idea of relational evangelism is in many ways, I think the church, not on purpose, but the church has kind of feminized Christianity. And what’s interesting about that is a lot of guys, especially high school guys, they’re not super interested in the come and see. That’s like, no, thank you. But when we started actually putting a mission out there, when we actually started putting a vision out there and they’re like, wait a minute, I get to be a part of something? Like I get to actually be activated? 

 

0:21:41.5 JP: It was amazing how… And I’m not saying that, it was exclusively the guys, but I saw a ridiculous amount of growth in our youth group among the guys who kind of had this, I’d say, like godly competitive nature of like, hey, I can do this. I can, dare 2 share. Guys just resonate more with this dare idea of like, hey, I dare you to go share that with your buddy. Him? Okay. And so it was interesting to me how much this whole idea really made the young men in my youth group come alive. And then as the young men were leading, the women got more excited as well and followed suit. So that was kind of an interesting observation. I don’t know if any of the data that you dug up showed any of that, but that was my observation was how this whole idea of challenging the men and giving them permission to actually just go out there and do it rather than saying, hey, come and see my youth pastor. He has got a great message or something like that, was so not interesting or exciting to the other men in their high school.

 

0:22:54.4 LF: Yeah, Jeff, you just blew my mind because I was going through our camp data right before we started this call. And I was thinking, why do we have so many high school boys? Like we have never had these many boys before. And so my to-do list now is to go back and look at years past attendance records and see at what point did that switch happen? Because I’m so curious about that. But I also agree with Scott. When we started with intercessory prayer, that was the part that really pushed our students into a lifestyle of relational evangelism because when they were praying for those who were lost. They started seeing those who were lost. And as they start to recognize those students, whether it be at school, work, even within their families, because we’ve had a lot of students start to bring in family members the last few years, that’s where we noticed a huge shift in not just students who are coming from another church that doesn’t have programming the same night, but just students who are not believers who are being intentionally discipled, not just by our adults, but by other students, and then making that decision later to commit their lives and believe in Christ. It just happened so quickly, it felt like. But looking back, it starts at that model of intercessory prayer, relational evangelism.

 

0:24:34.2 BP: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, so the second one, it kind of goes along with the first, but has just a little bit difference to it. So those group C groups with these values experienced three times the overall growth of their group, meaning their attendance numbers jumped to three times… At three times the rate of the control group. The control group, like I said, just by opening their doors, we’ve seen in the research, just by opening your doors, you can gain students. What we didn’t see in the research was that pizza helps with that number. We didn’t see that yet. We’re just gonna dig deeper. That’s a focus group stuff. But what we do see here in this is that these values increased that growth rate three times the amount.

 

[pause]

 

0:26:01.9 JP: I mean, I think that a lot of it’s kind of self-explanatory. This whole idea of biblical outcomes are going to measure it. I just think of it from a very practical standpoint. I played soccer when I was in high school. And, man, we lost games that we didn’t have very many shots on goal. And we won games where we had a ton of shots on goal. That doesn’t mean that every shot went in the goal. But I mean, even if you have 10% of your shots going in, you’re going to get a goal for every 10 tries. And so in that way, I would say this is a very practical number that if you’re trying to share the gospel with people, which is our mandate, by the way, we’re called to go and share the gospel. Jesus never even told us to be good at it. He just told us to be faithful at it. Praise the Lord. But the more times that you attempt it, it makes sense that some of those are gonna take, it reminds me of the parable of the sower, man, just go chuck seeds. Some of that seed, some of that kingdom seed is going to stick and it’s gonna grow. And so to me, it’s just a really practical number. This is the biggest no brainer for me that the more attempts you make, the more times that something’s got to stick.

 

0:27:15.3 ST: I just think it gives ownership over to the students. These values are the ones that give ownership to students. And this generation doesn’t want to just have someone sit and tell them what they should do. They want to be active in it. And so when we put these values into place and that, hey, you have a part in this and it’s your youth ministry and we’re not waiting for you to grow up to be a leader in the church. You are a church leader right now, in fact. You’re probably leading out in front of some of the adults in our church, because some of the adults in our church aren’t going out and sharing the gospel. And when adults start seeing students doing that, they’re like, hey, wait a second, we better do something about this. We can’t let the kids outdo us, right? And so I think the ownership and being able to put these things, these tools into students’ hands and say, hey you’re the one that’s going to make a difference in our cause turf here. It’s your school. You’ve got to take ownership of it. I think that that is why you see the numbers as they are.

 

0:28:22.0 LF: I agree with Scott, giving students ownership puts them in a position where they really take that responsibility seriously, and being told that they’re not just the future of the church, but they are an active and vital part of the church now, really ignites that flame within them. But I think the other part of it is when you have students who are actively seeking out opportunities to share the gospel with their friends who are lost, they’re going to take that opportunity to bring them in. And so, kind of like Jeff had said, when you’re sowing the seeds, some of them are going to grow. So while not every student that’s being brought in is going to make that decision to commit their life to Christ, or they’re not going to make that decision that this is the youth group where they stay, you do see where many of them make that decision to hang around to become a part. They begin to involve gospel advancing principles in their lives, and it’s like the cycle kind of continues.

 

0:29:29.9 BP: Yeah, I think that what you guys are saying is dead on with it. I also think beyond just ownership, when there’s something happening, students want to be involved in it. And so, the fact, what I’ve learned in gospel advancing, in any of the gospel advancing ministries I’ve been around, man, they make noise. And it’s a different kind of noise. And students are looking for something to be involved in. They want to be part of something. They love movements. They love causes. And so, they’re seeing something happen, and that noise draws them in. And so, I think that there’s just a simple side of it of there’s something actually happening that’s not just, hey, we’re showing up to hang out somewhere. We’ve got something to do, and I want to be a part of that. I want to know what it is. And so, we were, over the years of doing that, doing gospel advancing ministry, saw that happen a lot where students came in going, I’ve heard a lot about your group, but I don’t know exactly why I’ve heard about your group. And that was a cool thing to see was students just wanting to come in because something was happening. And so, I think that’s a part of it.

 

0:30:38.5 JP: Yeah. Yep.

 

0:30:48.1 BP: Yeah. So, this is the one, again, like I said before, it blew my mind. This is the one that was just crazy to me, but it also makes a lot of sense with what’s happening with these other numbers here is, on average, and the control group was seeing students share the gospel on average five times a year. And that spread across their whole student attendance there. But the group C, these gospel advancing ministries, we’re seeing students share the gospel up to 50 times a year per student. That’s like once a week sharing the gospel amongst their students. And so, that’s that huge difference there.

 

0:31:29.5 ST: Yes. Yes. That’s what we want to see. I mean, that’s, you know, being able to see students taking it and seeing like our friend Chris Selby is, you know, governmentally supported missionaries on their schools. You know, being able to see that happen in their school. Let’s not forget about the homeschoolers. You can do that with your brother and sister and stuff too, whatever. But being able to see that they are so confident in that. One of the things that I’ve seen over the last three years taking kids to lead the cause is the fact that this last year, my students came back and said, you know what? You’ve been teaching us how to share the gospel, but now we have confidence. And I think once you make that a part of what you’re doing as a student ministry, and you build that confidence, and you get reps in and practice with each other, and then go out and do that. And then to have a place where they could come and share their stories. Hey, I tried sharing the gospel with my friend this week, and it didn’t go well. It didn’t go well. Not just the success stories, but being able to see that they’re actually put… It’s all about how you program for that, right? 

 

0:32:46.1 GS: Yeah, ladies first.

 

0:32:51.5 LF: Yeah, I mean, one, it’s so encouraging just to see that students are taking ownership in that and taking pride in being able to say, I know how to share the gospel, and so if I know how to do it, I better be doing it. But I just think of students that we have where they are so passionate and so excited, knowing that they’ve been equipped with a power, they’ve been equipped with a purpose, and that they have an opportunity to reach others. I mean, it’s encouraging for me. It’s encouraging for our leaders. We take time every week to give them the chance to share about it, and there have been many weeks where we’ve cut the message, cut the small groups, because they’ve just been sharing the whole time, which is, I mean, it’s really hard to describe what that moment is like unless you’re a part of it, but we have some students who are quickly approaching the end of their time in youth group, and a few of them have been asked, what are your plans after high school? And I have one boy specifically who said, I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I know God is calling me to be an evangelist, so whatever I do, it’s going to happen through that, which is incredible, because just a few years ago, he would have never said that. So it’s just encouraging to know if students can do this and if they can do it so regularly as adults, it’s definitely something that we should and can do.

 

0:34:28.7 JP: I have so many thoughts on this one, but I’ll try to keep it brief. You know, I think the first thing is, praise the Lord. This is exactly what we’re praying for. This is exactly what Jesus was praying for, and so we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens. We should be very excited about it. There’s also a part of me that’s like, really? Only once a week? But you know, I’ll let that subside a little bit. That’s awesome. It’s so awesome, but I think, you know, one of the things that’s just true is that Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, all glory to heaven and earth has been given to me. Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything that I’ve commanded you. And then he says this, and I’ll be with you always until the end of the age, and that’s a weird phrase to put at the end. I’ll be with you always to the end of the age, because we know that God is omnipresent. So if he’s omnipresent, then he’s always all where present. What was he trying to say there? Is there something unique there? And I think the answer is yes.

 

0:35:26.2 JP: I think the reality is that Jesus was saying, as you go, as you do this, you are going to experience a nearness to me that is unlike anything else. And so in so many ways, you know, it’s like God is, you know, we’ll say he’s a football coach. You know, Jesus is a football coach, and he’s like, all right guys, this is our year. We’re going to win it all. You know, we’re going to put in the practice. We’re going to do this stuff. And everybody is like, yeah, this is great. And then he gets to the end. He’s like, we’re going to win it all. It’s going to be amazing. Yeah. And he’s like, so meet me at the football field at noon. And they’re like, yeah, and we leave. And then, you know, we go and try to meet him at the baseball field at 3:00. And he’s not there. There’s no action. It’s so boring. And we’re like, God, where are you? Coach, where are you? You know, and it’s like, you know, God is just looking there. Like, I said, football field at noon.

 

0:36:29.5 JP: And I think that’s what has happened with the church band. God has told us where to find him. And it’s not even hard. It’s going to all the world and make disciples. And I think the students who have put that into practice have just experienced that nearness to God that it’s like, I want more of that. I want to experience more of that. And it becomes kind of contagious. And then they bring in these new believers. And man, if you want to see what a new believer is like, let’s look at the woman at the well who dropped her water basin and ran into town to tell everybody about this guy. And that becomes contagious because, you know, instead of the people who have sat in church and, you know, Sunday school is awesome. Sermons are awesome, but they’re not the same as experiencing life change in Jesus. And when your group starts to experience that life change in Jesus and his presence is so obvious, it’s like we want more of that. We don’t want anything else. We want more of that. And so this number is just not even surprising to me because when you taste and see that the Lord is good, you not only want more of that yourself, but you want everyone else to experience it as well.

 

0:37:44.8 JP: When we really understand what Jesus did for us. And like, this is like if I had a million dollars and I could give it away, but still have it. I would give it to everyone, right? You take a million and you take a million and I don’t even like you. You take a million, right? ’cause I’ll never run out myself. And that’s what Jesus has done for us. So those students who tap into it, they realize they have this infinite supply of sharing God’s love. And as they do that, they actually only realize more that they have for themselves. This is not surprising.

 

0:38:29.3 GS: That’s right.

 

0:38:56.9 BP: Yeah. So we’ve got, we actually have quite a few things that are coming up here. There’s… Already been mentioned on here. We’ve got Lead the Cause coming up, which is our summer week-long event that’s going on with students coming to Denver, Colorado for a week to be trained, equipped, and sent in these things. And sent, not just sent out to do it, but sent with a plan home to take the strategy back and lead a charge in their own communities. Incredible, life-changing week with students that I don’t think you should miss. Be part of it. We’ve got stuff going on for leaders.

 

0:39:27.8 BP: We actually just kind of closed registration this week on our Gospel Advancing Summit for North America here that’s happening in April. And so a group of just about 200 leaders coming together in April over in California for the summit, which is going to be an incredible time of growth for leaders to do the same thing, to come up with plans of how do we connect with other leaders and network for the best possible outreach. We have different resources like our ongoing weeklies that are an email resource that goes out to leaders every single week, giving them different tips and tricks and tools on how to implement stuff immediately, be able to walk in it, some good connections from leaders who are sharing their stories of things.

 

0:40:08.4 BP: We’ve got our regular community on Facebook, a group of over 3000 Gospel Advancing leaders right now that you can plug into and gain resources from. But we also have some new things like Gospel Advancing workshops coming up here that are intensive training for leaders that are going to be happening in a bunch of different locations all over the US, and actually all over the world. We’ve got these happening as we’re also seeing Lead the Causes happening on local levels in different ministries all over the world this year, kind of piloting some new programs with that. But it’s happening. We’re going to see God move, and He’s already opening doors that we didn’t expect to be open. And it just keeps happening that God is taking these things and running with it. So there’s so much, Greg. There’s so much we could talk about, man.